The Challenge of Learning a New Language

On October 22nd, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of the social-networking website Facebook, posted a video of himself addressing an audience in Mandarin Chinese at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, much to their delight and absolute surprise. He even successfully conducted and completed a question-and-answer session in his new language.  Zuckerberg has been both praised and criticised for his decision to communicate in Mandarin Chinese. Critics found that his grasp of the grammar and pronunciation, among other things, left a lot to be desired. One major voice of dissent is Isaac Stone Fish, “China expert” and second language learner of Mandarin, who maintained in his reaction to the speech that Zuckerberg’s level of Mandarin Chinese was comparable to that of a seven-year-old Mandarin-speaking child. And yet, it can’t be denied Zuckerberg’s 30-minute speech is, to a certain degree, rather impressive. It’s a considerable accomplishment for someone whose first language is not Mandarin to address an audience for 30 minutes in Mandarin Chinese and Zuckerberg prepared extensively for the occasion by studying Mandarin Chinese every day for a year. It is entirely probable that the interview at Tsinghua University had been carefully rehearsed beforehand, but that does not detract from the admirable feat of clearly learning and absorbing the important aspects (basics) of the language. Mandarin Chinese is a complicated language for Westerners to learn. The difficulty lies in the structure and the fundamentals of the language, which strongly differ from those of Western languages. In Mandarin the pitch pattern of a word – tone and intonation – determine its meaning. A word articulated in a high level tone changes...

Google Skipped Persian Classes

Sadly, our beloved US Market intern Shabnam is leaving Textcase. After 6 months of hard work, she’ll continue to finish her degree at university. Since she is originally from Iran, I wanted to say good bye in her mother language: Persian. However, instead of asking one of our own translators, I decided to take Google Translate for a spin. Even though Textcase is an official Google Partner thanks to our excellence in Google AdWords, we would never recommend any company to translate their website, documents or mobile application using Google Translate. To support this statement, let’s go back to my little conversion with Shabnam. As I said, I wanted to say good bye to Shabnam. The exact sentence I formulated was ‘see you later’. Since I didn’t want to be too hard on Google, I changed the expression to a full sentence. What I eventually fed into Google’s machine was ‘I will see you later’. It resulted into the following: من شما را بعدا مراجعه کنید Happy as a child that just learned his first word, I showed the above to Shabnam. As soon as she started to laugh I knew what happened. The Persian sentence provided by Google didn’t make any sense at all: “I you come back later” The ‘come back later’ part is even considered to be a formal way of dismissing someone who interrupts you while you’re on the phone. So Google has a hard time translating this basic and actually very common phrase. However, maybe I confused Google by providing a full sentence, while I should have stuck with the shorter expression: ‘see you’. Unsurprisingly,...

Why Transliteration?

In a globalizing digital market, transliteration is an upcoming service. As a company you can realize growth by providing online content, products or applications in multiple languages through the Internet. These translation and localization projects focused in our region mainly on Western European languages. There’s no transliteration needed in those language pairs. Organizations with specific geographical focus already translate to ‘exotic’ languages with different alphabets. However, I predict this will become more mainstream, also for companies without ties in these language regions. And why not go into these markets? Imagine, in China there are 568 million Internet users and in comparison – 254 million in the US. Website translations to, for example, Chinese, Korean, Russian or Arabic will be more common. The difference in alphabet, writing direction and larger cultural differences cause for more factors in translation work, such as transliteration. But what is transliteration? Here’s a common definition: “To write words or letters in the characters of another alphabet.” (Merriam-Webster) Our translators know the systems and methods that are created for transliteration, such as hanyu pinyin for Chinese. Also for Russian – using the Cyrillic alphabet – there’s a common system in place for Romanization, or the conversion to our Latin writing. The other way around can be trickier sometimes, especially with names. Your company name for example, or products, services, or even the names of certain people involved. These names do not exist in the writing of the target language and so you can choose to keep it in Latin writing or, if you really want to localize well, you can transliterate these names to the local...
AdWords Translation: Language and Location Settings

AdWords Translation: Language and Location Settings

‘AdWords translation’ does not simply refer to converting advertisements and keywords to a different language but also entails gearing the translation to the target location. Advertisement texts and keywords must be localized, which means that defining your exact target audience prior to getting started with the translation is essential. Once you have defined the target audience and translated the AdWords, the work is by no means completed. You still need to notify Google of who your new target audience is! How Google determines the user location and language In order to show your advertisements only to those people relevant to you, Google identifies the location and language of the users. Google employs four factors in determining the language appropriate a specific user. Domain extension Is the user on Google.nl, Google.fr or Google.pt? Interface language What default language has the user selected for the Google interface? Keyword What language is the keyword in? Ip address Google records the ip address of users and links this to a location. Set AdWords language & location Below is a step by step explanation of how to change the location and language settings of your translated campaigns in AdWords. Set language Log in to your AdWords account. Click on the ‘Campaigns’ tab Click the name of the campaign. Click on the ‘Settings’ tab. Click ‘Edit’ next to ‘Languages’. Select target language or languages. Click ‘Save’ Set location Log in to your AdWords account. Click on the ‘Campaigns’ tab Click the name of the campaign. Click on the ‘Settings’ tab. Click ‘Edit’ next to ‘Locations’. This allows you to target not only a country, but...
Chinese Translation

Chinese Translation

Bridging the gap between companies and people in Asia and Western-Europe, that is our goal. Textcase has a strong network of translators from and to Asian languages, with a special focus on Mandarin Chinese. We are constantly in close contact with translators in both continents, therefore we can find the right translator for the right job. Our team is continuously improving our network of international communication professionals. We are also working to create texts that are as smooth and clear as possible for the reader in the other language and culture. Company documents, marketing materials, websites, webshops, books, e-books and apps are our specialty. Contact us for any services you may need in Chinese...
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